- Published: February 4, 2022
- Updated: February 4, 2022
- University / College: University of Kent
- Language: English
- Downloads: 13
There is no such loss than that of humanity. One of the most common and popular stages of genocide is dehumanization.
Dehumanization is when one group denies the humanity of another group, and makes the victim group seem subhuman. In this stage of genocide, there’s hate propaganda vilifying the victim group, members of the victim group are described as animals, vermin, and diseases, it invokes superiority of one group and inferiority of the other, and it justifies murder by calling it “ ethnic cleansing”, or “ purification”. During World War II, the Nazis targeted the Jew’s humanity and slowly caused the Jews to go against what they believed in, which led to loss of humanity. The Nazis had numerous ways to dehumanize Jews, like for example, beatings, separation among family members, forced labor, starvation, and many others. In the memoir Night, the author Elie Wiesel expresses his experiences in which he, his family and his fellow Jews were dehumanized while living in the concentration camps. One of the dehumanizing crimes committed by the Nazis against the Jews that is described in the memoir Night by Elie Wiesel, is labeling.
Labeling is a common practice in genocides. Prisoners were assigned a series of numbers, which were tattooed on their left arm for identification purposes. “ I became A-7713. From then on, I had no other name” (Wiesel, 42). After each prisoner had tattooed their number on their left arm, this number became their new name.
“ Every Jew had to wear the yellow star” (Wiesel, 11). Jews were also forced to wear the yellow Star of David, in order to dehumanize them by labeling them and making them feel different and separated from society. Jews were severely punished if they didn’t wear the Star of David. The crematorium is another dehumanization crime committed by the Nazis against the Jewish people that is described in the memoir Night by Elie Wiesel. “ Not far from us, flames, huge flames, were rising from a ditch” (Wiesel, 32).
At the concentration camps there were crematoriums, which were used to burn living people, the ill, the healthy, men, women, children, all were thrown in there. “ How was it possible that men, women, and children were being burned and the world kept silent?” (Wiesel, 32). Living people were thrown into burning fire, to feel unexplainable pain until their death. There is nothing more cruel than making a person suffer in agony, it is inhumane. The final act of dehumanization toward the Jews by Nazi that is mentioned by Elie Wiesel in Night is the treatment of humans as animals. In the memoir Night, Elie Wiesel reveals how every order had to be followed because if not they were killed.
“ The German officer added, ‘ If anyone goes missing, you will be shot, like dogs’”(Wiesel, 36). Fear of death wasn’t the only reason to follow orders and commands, but fear of abuse, fear of being beaten and the fear of what would happen if they didn’t follow the rules. They were treated as animals, “ The SS made us increase our pace, ‘ Faster, you tramps, you flea-ridden dogs’” (Wiesel, 85). Each judgment led the Nazis to believe each prisoner or Jew was a dog, and should be treated with no humanity whatsoever. Elie Wiesel illustrated the dehumanizing acts toward the Jewish prisoners in Night. He represented his personal experiences and the most accurate rendering of his testimony to what happened in the concentration camps.
Abuse of power and what the Nazis believed was wrong caused dehumanization to occur. Throughout the autobiography, Wiesel explains the process from start to the end when he realizes he loss his own humanity. The dehumanization toward the prisoners is one of the most brutal and cruel acts in history, which should never be allowed to happen again.